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The Transformative SelfPersonal Growth, Narrative Identity, and the Good Life$
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Jack Bauer

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780199970742

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2021

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199970742.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 24 January 2022

The Cultural Master Narrative of Personal Growth

The Cultural Master Narrative of Personal Growth

(p.32) 2 The Cultural Master Narrative of Personal Growth
The Transformative Self

Jack Bauer

Oxford University Press

This chapter first examines the enduring, cultural ideal of growth, providing a historical context for the modern transformative self. The chapter then introduces cultural master narratives as story prototypes that a culture cherishes in part because they provide individuals with examples of how to live a good life in that culture. The transformative self has a cultural master narrative in the bildungsroman genre of literature—stories that extol character development, personal growth, and self-actualization as the path to happiness, love, and wisdom. Generally speaking, the bildungsroman protagonist rejects the materialistic values of society’s mainstream and forges a personal path of humane growth. On this path, the protagonist learns how to resolve internal conflicts such as money versus meaning, self-discovery versus self-invention, individuation versus interdependence, and playing roles versus living authentically. The chapter introduces characters from a handful of bildungsroman novels that will serve to illustrate concepts throughout the book.

Keywords:   cultural master narrative, cultural ideal, the good life, personal growth, bildungsroman, self-discovery, self-invention

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